Red Tilapia vs Black Tilapia – Which Is The Better Fish?

red tilapia vs black tilapia
red tilapia vs black tilapia

Today Tilapia is a fish that is farmed and raised all over the world. According to Berkeley Wellness, the fish originated in the Middle East in Africa.

Tilapia is not one of the highly sought-after types of fish, and you have probably heard it’s bad for health for many reasons.

One of the major reasons Tilapia is not a good choice to add to your diet is the water it comes from. Most tilapia farms raise fish in crowded and restricted conditions, which is unhygienic as it favors the spread of disease. 

Considering this, if you still want to add Tilapia to your dinner menu tonight, avoiding getting the fish directly imported from china is recommended to keep away from fish raised under such conditions.

Tilapia fish from Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, and Indonesia are raised under responsible and more eco-friendly conditions and are safer than those from China.


Furthermore, rumors also claim that tilapia consumption isn’t good for health as it is mostly fed with livestock waste.

Tilapia fed and raised under such unhygienic conditions potentially has higher chances of being invested by bacteria like salmonella.

Omega-three is why so many people prefer to add fish to their diet. Although Tilapia has a bad reputation regarding how healthy it is, it’s more complicated than that, especially considering the tilapia fish are raised on eco-friendly farms.

Tilapia is generally a super low-calorie fish, rich in protein, Vitamin B12, niacin, and potassium. However, in Tilapia, the omega-three to omega-six ratio is imbalanced.

Compared to salmon, it has 10 times less health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids and a greater amount of omega-6 fatty acids that are not as good as omega-3; rather the excess of it produces the pathogenesis of various diseases. 

Tilapia maintains a bad reputation among people for fitness.

Moreover, Tilapia is one of the most farmed fish around the world, with the majority of the supply coming from unsanitary farms. So if you want to add fish to your diet, it might be best to look towards other alternatives.

Many beginners seem confused about the two varieties of tilapia fish and struggle to set the two apart, so let us help you through this Red Tilapia vs. Black Tilapia guide.

A Brief Red Tilapia vs Black Tilapia Guide

Red Tilapia Black Tilapia
Raised Fresh water Wild, crowded waters
Genetic origin Man-made variant Middle East Africa
Color Pink – Red Olive green- Metallic  black
Odor Barely detectable Strong Fishy
Taste Mild, Sweet Mild/Virtually flavorless
Consumption Safer to consume Not so safe

Red Tilapia

It is common knowledge that Tilapia is available in many global locations. Because of this, farmers keep trying different selective breeding methods to develop unique variants of this fish.

Red Tilapia is one of those variants and comes in high demand in most markets. This dates back to 1988 when a project on genetically improved farmed Tilapia kicked off.

The main goal was perfecting the stain of Tilapia for raising and selling commercially.

red tilapia

According to some experts, Red Tilapia is the genetically better-bred fish cultured in fresh water and has a significantly increased growth rate of approximately 85% compared to the wild Tilapia, bringing more depth to your recipe.

It will come to you as a surprise that red Tilapia is not one of the species of Tilapia; rather is a name used for the man-made tilapia fish variants that are red.

It is also known for its many nutritional benefits as it stands above the Black Tilapia.

The 3.5 ounces (100 grams)of red tilapia fish serving packs 26 grams of protein and only 128 calories. What makes it even more impressive is the significantly higher amount of minerals like niacin, phosphorous, potassium, and other minerals in the fish.

The primary difference that helps a local distinguish the two fish is the color of the skin. Depending upon the farming location, you will notice that the color of this fish may vary from bright red to light pink.

Another feature that separates the red Tilapia is its odor. Unlike other fish a red Tilapia’s skin has a barely detectable odor. This bewildering feature makes people choose red Tilapias over other fish to include in their meals.

Furthermore, the red tilapia variant is raised on good quality food and in clean water. It tastes mild and sweet.  

This fish is famous for its growth rate, and its further variants bring a boost to the farming of Red Tilapia. It is not another type of Tilapia but rather a variant. It came to be a high-demand fish after several years of selective breeding.

tilapa red

Even though this variant of Tilapia is known to be more beneficial for farmers and consumers, it is still better to learn about where your fish is coming from.

If the farm uses chemicals and several toxins to further encourage their fish’s growth, it would be better to stay away. The fish absorbs these toxins after exposure, and this causes harm to the consumer’s body.

For better health, buy fish from an acclaimed supplier or someone you trust. That way, you won’t have to dig deeper into the location of the fish, and you can enjoy a nice meal.

The size of both these variants is quite similar, with Red Tilapia having a minor advantage. You should visit a Tilapia fish farm for more information on this variant.

Black Tilapia

It is the common Tilapia from the natural environment or raised on farms. Most are caught in the wild river in India.

The fish has a lean structure with a light but firm, flaky texture. The color is olive green, black metallic dorsally, and silver bronze streaks laterally.

black tilapia

It is also commonly referred to as wild Tilapia without the involvement of any selective breeding.

The black Tilapia brings a blackish-grey texture to the table when cooked and served with sautéed vegetables and baked potatoes. You can quickly identify the dull color and won’t notice any contrast.

Tilapia comes in various colors. Even though there are minute differences between the different Tilapia, their health and nutritional benefits are similar.

Like red Tilapia, black Tilapia also is enriched by omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, potassium, and other minerals and vitamins that are good for the nervous system. 

However, due to the unhygienic, non-eco-friendly, and congested environment in which these black wild Tilapia are raised, the harm they are capable of causing to humans on consumption overrides the health benefits.

As the fish absorbs toxins and other detrimental and harmful components from the dirty water, it greatly increases its chances of acquiring bacterial infections that will eventually be transferred to the human gut and blood if consumed.

tilapia black

So, there is no need to go out of your way to get a Red Tilapia over the Black one.

Furthermore, the black Tilapia fish’s skin has a very strong fishy odor that rends a lot of Tilapia fish customers to shift to buying red Tilapia rather than the naturally occurring black wild Tilapia.  

A black Tilapia fish is delicate and mild in flavor. Some also argue that the fish virtually doesn’t have any flavor.

Although there is a sweet taste to the fish resembling that of red snapper or striped bass, due to its source of water and the food, the taste may alter depending on the toxins it absorbed or the water it came from.

However, if you’re a farmer and want to expand your reach in the market, then going for a Red Tilapia is almost always a better option.

Not only does it boost the growth rate, but you will be able to target a niche that other farmers have yet to learn about. Black Tilapia and Red Tilapia are pretty similar in shape and size.

The significant difference is the change in color from Black to Red.

Farmers have also pointed out a better survival rate in the Red Tilapia.


So, as a farmer, there are many upsides to going for a Red Tilapia over a Black One. On the other hand, if you’re a consumer and want to buy Tilapia to add to your fitness diet, the Black one will serve you just as well.

It would be best if you always went for the one that gives you a better value for money.

You only need to ensure the conditions where the fish grew up. If the fish grew under sanitary conditions, it would benefit your health. However, if the conditions are unpleasant with toxins in the ponds, it is better to stay away. 

The bottom line

Suppose you are genuinely looking for the fish variant to get the big nutritional shot.

In that case, there are other fish types (Salmon, Snapper, Trout, Mackerel, and Sardines) that contain more omega 3 and less omega 6 fatty acids and are healthier and better options compared to Tilapia.

However, if you want to choose between Red and Black Tilapia to bring to the table, then Red Tilapia is the best pick.

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